February in my garden seems to bring such an abundance of some fruits and vegetables.
The age old cook’s problem of what to do with the easy to grow excess zucchinis, tomatoes, grapes and plums, it seems, is an annual event at our place.
This season we limited ourselves to one zucchini plant only – and have found that it keeps us in produce at least 3-4 days a week at its peak. (as well as anyone unfortunate enough to visit our kitchen during the month!) The question seems to be, what can be done with them?
Steamed, stir fried, stuffed, julienne into ‘spaghetti’, grated for a slice, pickled and made into relish – zucchini’s seem to have as many ways to cook them as the plant can produce. I hide them in bolognaise sauce, (to fool the boys into thinking they might actually miss a day of zucchini). Liam’s Grandmother gave me a great recipe for zucchini relish with corn. The sight on a deep August night of a glowing golden jar of summer to go with the roast is surely worth the months of effort in the garden! Another friend swears that her working dogs don’t seem to mind zucchini chopped and steamed in with their dry food…so if the boys won’t eat them, you’ve pickled them, relished them, I guess you are justified to give them to the dog and failing that, the hens and compost heap!
Tomato gluts are easier to deal with. There wouldn’t be many households that can’t use a few jars of passata, or sauce or relish.
At the moment we are eating cherry tomatoes every day. Our plants started off in the hothouse, so have come nice and early. They are slipped in at the last minute to roast vegetables and make “little bombs of taste” in the mouth (as my 7 year old puts it).
They get eaten as we pick them whilst making the evening watering rounds. The neighbours lean over the fence and we compare size, “explosive charge” (7 year old again) as well as how many fall victim to the roving armies of soldier and harlequin beetles. (Although, to be fair, most are picked before the bugs can get to them)
Another quick way we reduce the bowl of red globes sitting in the pantry is to combine them with cucumbers from the garden and dice and cube our way to fresh salsas that go with fish and chicken as well as veggie patties (with zucchini!).
When it comes to grapes – you’re either for or against! In my household I battle to get anyone else to eat a bunch a day when the grapes fill and turn sweet. I have plans afoot to turn what the birds don’t eat into grape jelly. (Once I find the piece of muslin in the bottom of the linen press)
As for plums…it is surely a great irony that in our garden we have been fortunate to inherit some wonderful plum trees but none are the umbictuous ‘blood plum’ that every celebrity chef worth their book deal seems to champion!
My upside down plum cake doesn’t quite have the glossy dark glow that a blood plum cake has in the photo spread….however, working with what the garden provides, we manage to make a great vanilla bean and plum jam that takes the ordinary plum jam to new heights. We stew a few to put onto porridge or eat with yoghurt, bake the cake that doesn’t look at good as the picture(!) and this year, made a great red chili and spicy plum sauce with the hot house chilies that have done so well under the new glass.
I think this last month I haven’t had to purchase a single cucumber, lettuce, silver beet, beetroot, carrot, parsnip, tomato, loquat, fig, strawberry, salad onion, broccoli, plum, grape, chili, rhubarb, lime, herbs and for the first exciting time in this garden….spuds! Of course, now I need to go and make potato salad to use up the new tat ties….